As Bills move through the legislative committee process, dLCV continues to monitor those Bills that could affect students with disabilities in the Commonwealth’s public schools. Students with disabilities, like students of color, are disproportionately affected by school disciplinary policies and practices and by the criminalization of student conduct. We have seen several Bills this session that would affect the way schools address student behavior, some of which have been defeated in their respective committees, and some of which continue to make their way through the committee process.
The Following Bills are still alive and working their way through the legislative process:
- HB1461 (Wiley): In its original form, this Bill would direct the Virginia Board of Education to develop a uniform system of discipline in schools throughout the Commonwealth that would have included, among other provisions, a “three-strike system” whereby a teacher would be required to remove a student from her class if the student displayed violent disruptive behavior, and would be required to do so for nonviolent disruptive behavior after two warnings. The Bill would also protect teachers from liability “for taking reasonable actions or utilizing reasonable methods to control a physically disruptive or violently disruptive student.” The Bill was modified in the subcommittee. In its current form, the Bill only requires the uniform system of discipline to include provision for the removal of a student for disruptive behavior that is violent and directs the Department of Education to appoint a stakeholder group to make recommendations about the feasibility of implementing a uniform system of discipline in which a student must be removed from a classroom if she continues to exhibit “nonviolent disruptive behavior after the teacher provides two warnings to the student.
Last Action: The Bill was reported by the House Education Committee on January 25, 2023
- HB2358 (Durant): Would permit any local law enforcement agency to employ in any public elementary or secondary school in the local school division a school protection officer, defined in the bill as a retired law-enforcement officer hired by the local law enforcement agency on a part-time basis to provide limited law-enforcement and security services to public elementary and secondary schools in the Commonwealth. The bill also requires each such school board and local law enforcement agency to enter into a memorandum of understanding that sets forth the powers and duties of school protection officers.
Last Action: Assigned to Education sub – Early Childhood/Innovation on January 23, 2023
- SB920 (Stuart): Would permit any local law enforcement agency to employ in any public elementary or secondary school in the local school division a school protection officer, defined in the bill as a retired law enforcement officer hired by the local law enforcement agency on a part-time basis to provide limited law enforcement and security services to public elementary and secondary schools in the Commonwealth. The bill also requires each such school board and local law enforcement agency to enter into a memorandum of understanding that sets forth the powers and duties of school protection officers.
Last Action: On Senate Judiciary Docket for January 25, 2023
- HB1691 (Greenhalgh): Provides that matching grants from the School Resource Officer Incentive Grants Fund may be awarded to local law enforcement agencies and local school boards for the expenses related to the equipment necessary for uniformed school resource officers, school security officers, and other relevant school safety personnel and the enhancement of the school-law enforcement partnership through training and programming as determined by the Department.
Last Action: Reported out of House Education Committee on January 25, 2023
- SB1300 (Deed): Would require the Board of Education to work in collaboration with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services to develop a comprehensive trauma-informed care training program for elementary and secondary school teachers for the purpose of ensuring that all teachers are equipped with the skills, knowledge, and resources to recognize and address signs of childhood trauma, as defined in the bill, in students, to foster a trauma-sensitive learning environment, and to ensure that students who have experienced childhood trauma receive the support they need, both inside and outside of the classroom. The bill requires the trauma-informed care training program to be provided annually and in person at each school division by a representative from the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and to be administered by the Department of Education and the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. Finally, the bill requires each local school board to adopt and implement policies requiring annual completion of the trauma-informed care training program by each primary and secondary school teacher in the school division.
Last Action: Assigned to Early Childhood and Innovation subcommittee on 1/23/2023
The following Bills have been defeated in committee and are no longer in play:
- HB1981 (Kory): Would make the provisions of the Regulations Governing the Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools in Virginia applicable to school security officers (SSOs) and school resource officers (SROs). When the seclusion and restraint regulations were drafted, SSOs and SROs were explicitly exempted from their provisions. This Bill would eliminate that exemption and protect students from the unnecessary use of seclusion and restraint by SSOs and SROs in school settings.
Last Action: The Bill failed to report from the subcommittee on January 24, 2023
- HB1983 (Kory): Would require the Department of Education (VDOE) to establish a work group to consider best practices for positive behavioral supports for students and trauma-informed school security practices, including examining the feasibility and appropriateness of hiring school safety coaches who can monitor the school environment for safety and build positive relationships with students and implementing policies and strategies for increasing the number of other appropriately trained school personnel. School safety coaches are an alternative to SROs and SSOs, who are typically trained in developmentally appropriate, trauma-informed approaches to supporting students in the school environment.
Last Action: The Bill failed to report from the subcommittee on January 24, 2023.
The disAbility Law Center of Virginia will be following these and other bills concerning the rights of people with disabilities as they make their way through their respective legislative committees throughout the session. Our mission is to advance independence, choice, and self-determination; protect legal, human, and civil rights; and eliminate abuse, neglect, and discrimination of people with disabilities through zealous and uncompromising legal advocacy and representation. We are available to educate policymakers about the potential impact of legislative proposals. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or by calling 1-800-552-3962 or 804-225-2042.